The Chilean Palo Verde (Chañar) is a endemic tree which grows inside the limits of the Atacama desert from Arica to Coquimbo. It is adapted to dry conditions and altitudes getting to colonize soils at 2300 mts (7500ft).
It is quite popular among the andean local communities because of its fruit which is used from ancestral times as a medicine for the throat and as kind of local syrup for desserts and meals.
Is the only legume which instead of having a long fruit, has a fleshy oval pod that contains a small single seed in the middle.
Gavilea is an endemic genus from South America, comprising 16 different species, all of them living only in Patagonia. It blooms between spring and summertime, and is often associated to forests and mesofitic shrubs.
Opening the flowering season all over the park and many other locations in Patagonia, it is one of the first flowers to bloom in this area.
It is an endemic species to the southernmost continental Patagonia. This genus comprises no more than 15 different species living in the andean mountain range.
Like most legumes, it is quite resistant to the hard climate conditions of Patagonia. This is in part explained by its adaptations like short stems to avoid the full impact of the dehydrating and cooling, almost permanent Patagonian winds and to keep it closer to the relatively warmer ground.
The Orchids in Torres del Paine are of great interest to research, scientific divulgation and the conservation of Biodiversity. This group, although not so diverse in austral latitudes as it is in the tropics, contains endemic species confined to restricted distributional ranges within Patagonia, with an evident aesthetic and scientific attractive which confers them the charisma to be promoted as an emblem of Torres del Paine and to generate a fascination for the diversity in this area resulting in a local and international interest for their conservation.
The project “The Orchids of Torres del Paine: monitoring and eco-tourism for the conservation of Biodiversity”, is led by Dr. Osvaldo J. Vidal and is a research effort conceived by the local NGO, AMA Torres del Paine, and partly financed by Far South Expeditions. This initiative aims to describe the taxonomical and distributional attributes of the species present in the area, identifying potential suitable sites for botanizing and photo tours, and to locally divulge this unexplored diversity and put it under the public spotlight. AMA Torres del Paine volunteers from Germany, Canada, Chile, China, France, USA, UK and Poland, have contributed to the mapping of 3,000 plants of 9 Orchid species in Torres del Paine.